What COVID Hath Wrought

Glenn Ellmers’s analysis of COVID and Trump represents a classic, and effective, account of the situation from the perspective of declining liberty and adherence to traditional values. But though it is important and necessary to hold onto our highest ideals, I would like to emphasize what is actually taking place on the ground and its likely long-term implication.

Statistics show that COVID accelerated economic, demographic, and geographic trends which were already existent, but rarely acknowledged. These trends include large-scale migration to the south, the west, and the suburbs. COVID also, as Ellmers suggests, sharpened the conflict between many Americans and the ruling “expert” class, who, unlike most Americans, actually flourished under COVID.

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We’re Telling the Wrong Story About Race in America

It’s been a week since a mentally ill racist murdered 10 people, most of them Black Americans, in a Buffalo supermarket. In the intervening days since this horrific tragedy, many have noted how often liberal journalists and politicians have tried to pin the blame for the mass shooting not just on the shooter and his far-right racist ideology, but anyone outside their progressive circles. In what was perhaps the most extreme example of this widespread trend, the cultural warriors of Rolling Stone insisted that the isolated and largely unhinged shooter was no outlier but “a mainstream Republican.”

Of course, one finds no such blame game when a shooter comes from the far Left, or when he is an Islamic militant or a Black nationalist; the same people blaming all Republicans for the Buffalo shooter can somehow clearly see that killers like the Waukesha murderer or the Jersey City shooter are crazed outliers rather than some kind of politically charged weapon. But the minute they can blame their political opponents for murderous extremists, they lose sight of this reality.

This is because for American progressives, evil only comes in one color—white; woke progressives have bought into a worldview in which people are classified and persecuted entirely due to their racial genome.

This orthodoxy is dangerous and divisive. It’s also fundamentally wrong. The truth of the matter is, Americans have never been less deserving of being called racist than we are today—the irresponsible embrace of “replacement theory” by some media figures like Tucker Carlson notwithstanding.

Unlike the progressives who dominate our publications and airwaves, most Americans don’t learn about race in college grievance classes but by experiencing the radical diversity of this nation firsthand, living in a country where salsa outsells ketchup and Modelo is about to surpass Budweiser as the nation’s top beer brand.

Nor is our multiculturalism limited to cosmopolitan mega cities. Recent immigrants are flocking to the South, the Sunbelt and even parts of the Great Plains. Even as core cities have re-segregated, in the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, 44 percent of residents live in racially and ethnically diverse suburbs, which are anywhere from 20 percent to 60 percent non-white. Nationwide, in the 53 metropolitan areas with more than 1,000,000 residents, more than three-quarters of Blacks and Hispanics now live in suburban or exurban areas.

They are not “replacing” anyone; they are helping build new communities.

Read the rest of this piece at Newsweek.


Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Photo: Jenn Durfey via Flickr under CC 2.0 License.

How the Boomers Robbed the Young of All Hope

“Young people do not degenerate; this occurs only after grown men have already become corrupt.”Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws, 1748.

The great test of a generation is whether it leaves better prospects for its descendants. Yet by virtually every indication, the baby boomers, and even the Gen Xers, are leaving a heritage of economic carnage – as well as a growing social and cultural dissipation that could shape our future and the fate of democratic self-rule, and not for the better. This legacy comes not from outside forces, but the investment bankers, tech oligarchs and their partners in the clerisy who have weakened their national economies and undermined the chances of upward mobility for most young people.

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What the New York Times Won’t Admit About California

Even the New York Times has to admit unpleasant realities, like the departure of people from California and other deep blue states. But one thing the paper, and other similarly-minded reporters based here, will never admit: the connection between the California economy and regulation and the rising out-migrations.

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America is Quietly Reinventing Itself

The future shape of post-Covid America is beginning to emerge. As demographic trends and surveys indicate, the pandemic has helped accelerate large, epochal changes in the nation’s geography.

It has reinforced the already existent trend of population dispersion, with people moving both to suburbs and smaller cities in ever greater numbers. The ascendency of sprawling Sun Belt metropolitan areas, like Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, Houston and Phoenix, has become increasingly clear and undeniable. The 2020 United States Census notes that four of the five counties gaining at least 300,000 people since 2010 were in Texas, Arizona or Nevada. Houston and Dallas acquired far more people than New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or even the Bay Area over the same period.

In contrast, the big blue coastal cities have all experienced meagre population growth in recent years and, since 2020, serious population decline. In the past year, the biggest migration losses took place in three key states: New York, New Jersey and Illinois. Survey data suggest this trend will continue. Four in 10 New Yorkers, notes pollster John Zogby, are considering a move out of the state. In California, high housing prices are driving a decline in population from an area with historically high population growth; last year, the state lost population for the first time in living memory.

This shift is in part the result of high taxes and regulatory policies, which tend to be far harsher in dense urban areas, leading to high housing costs. More than 85 per cent of the difference in the cost of living between the more expensive metropolitan areas and the national average is attributable to higher housing costs. California, which has sought to limit suburban expansion, struggles to build enough housing to meet even anaemic population growth.

A recent survey found that the number of Americans moving from their home regions is at its highest level on record. The highest percentages of home-buyers leaving are from prime ‘superstar’ cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Seattle and Boston. Similar patterns can be seen in the movement to suburbia. Americans have been heading to the suburbs for generations, growing from 13 per cent of the metropolitan population in 1940 to 86 per cent in 2017.

Nor does it seem likely that most people will return to the city. A Los Angeles Times / Reality Check Insights national poll, taken after the November 2020 presidential election, found that just 44 per cent would pick a big city once again. Just 32 per cent of big-city dwellers state that they would definitely move away if they could; this is notably greater than the quarter of those who live in suburbs of big cities and small cities who feel the same way.

Read the rest of this piece at Spiked.


Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Photo: Ed Schipul via Flickr, CC 2.0 License

The Kids Are Not Alright and the Center is No Longer Holding

Across the West, the young are losing faith in the future.

The recent French election provides a case study. In the first round vote, voters narrowly favored President Emmanuel Macron, the epitome of “enlightened” elite rule, over Marine Le Pen, the doyenne of French fascism. Read more

Red Dusk

David Goldman’s remarks on America’s challenges against China are, for the most part, spot-on. He is particularly on-target about two realities that may displease traditional conservatives: the failure of Trump’s China policy, and the need for some form of industrial policy.

Goldman may have voted twice for Trump (I did not), but he is no MAGA die-hard. He can read the numbers, which show growing dependence on China and an ever-widening trade deficit: imports from China rose over 30% more starting in January 2018, when Trump imposed tariffs. This 19th-century strategy simply did not work in the 21st.

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Texas Is The Future

In 1946, the American author John Gunther described Houston as “mostly ugly and barren, without a single good restaurant and hotels with cockroaches”. The only reasons to live in the city, he claimed, were financial; it was a place “where few people think about anything but money”.

This view was widespread at the time, and has lingered well into the 21st century. Forget Houston. New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are the cities most frequently associated with the urban American dream.

Fast forward to today, however, and a new urban renaissance is taking shape — and this time, it’s in the heart of Texas. Never before in American history have two metros in one state — Houston and Dallas-Ft. Worth — been in the nation’s five largest. So much for its cockroaches; at its current rate of growth, Houston could replace Chicago as the nation’s third largest municipality by 2030.

What’s driving this Texan resurgence? Traditionally, American cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, and St. Louis all tried to copy the model set by New York and, to a lesser extent, Chicago, with high-rise offices crowded into central business districts. But Texas urbanism is different. They may wear cowboy boots, drive pickup trucks, and attend rodeos, but Texans have created a new model of American urbanity rooted in the demands of the consumer market — an idea deeply offensive to many planners and retro-urbanists.

Some observers lament the fact that the vast majority of Texas’s metropolitan growth — nearly 100% — has taken place in the suburbs and exurbs. But this has its benefits, not least the fact that its cities haven’t been turned into rabbit warrens that only provide high living standards to the rich. Over the past decade, Texas has built three times as much housing as California. This has allowed its cities, despite massive demographic and economic growth, to keep housing prices significantly lower than in coastal Californian cities such as San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego and Los Angeles.

But while affordability has been the secret sauce for Texan cities, its urbanism also thrives by embracing the realities of the marketplace. Over the past decade, Austin and Dallas have created jobs two to three times faster than New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago. And this growth is not all at the low end of the job market, as some like the New York Times’s Paul Krugman suggest. Over the past five years, for instance, Austin has displaced San Francisco as the fastest growing tech market. Indeed, Austin is now arguably the strongest rival to Silicon Valley, home to the headquarters of Tesla, and Oracle, as well as Apple’s engineering division and Meta’s latest expansion, 33 floors downtown.

But the most significant expansion has been in professional and business services, the core of the new urban economy. Over the past five years, Austin and Dallas-Ft. Worth have created more than twice as many new business service jobs as San Jose; all four big Texas cities have grown this sector many times the rate of New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago. The Dallas metroplex is now home to 24 Fortune 500 company headquarters, trailing only New York and Chicago by a small number; 40 years ago, the region had fewer than five.

Read the rest of this piece at UnHerd.


Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Homepage photo: from PxHere under CC 0.0 Public Domain.

America is Headed for Class Warfare

Nothing has revealed the class divide in the U.S. quite like runaway inflation and skyrocketing gas prices. But in addition to the economic impact the staggering incompetence of the Biden administration is having on the working class, there is a political one; it’s undeniably driving working class voters even further from the Democrats and toward the GOP.

But it’s not all good news for conservatives. The recent Amazon vote to unionize could be a precursor to something less appealing to the Right: a nascent rebellion among the vast armies of service workers who for decades have inhabited the lower economic rungs.

The truth is, the rising tide of class conflict is problematic for both parties. The Amazon vote challenges the GOP’s anti-union stance and its free market dogma. But Democrats, too, face an embarrassing conundrum, since the companies most likely to face continued union drives—Amazon and Starbucks among them—are themselves core funders and media stewards of the Democratic Party.

This is not the discussion either liberal oligarchs or Right-wing activists want. They would rather battle over media hot buttons like climate, race, and gender, than meaningfully address working conditions, wages or rapidly rising rents.

In other words, neither party has developed a program to boost proletarian aspirations.

And this despite the fact that the growing class divide could well be the dominant issue of the next decade. Middle- and working-class Americans are widely—and correctly—pessimistic about their economic futures. Even before the civil unrest of recent years and the pandemic, Pew reported that most Americans believed our country was in decline, with a shrinking middle class, increased debt, alienation from leaders and growing polarization.

Almost 70 percent of Americans told pollsters last year that the next generation will be worse off than their parents. And it’s not just the masses. Young people across the country are pessimistic as well: Most people 15 to 24 also think life will be worse for them than for their parents.

They aren’t wrong. The share of American adults who live in middle-income households has decreased from 61 percent in 1971 to 51 percent in 2019, and the pandemic appears to have accelerated this pattern, hitting low-income workers hardest while the recovery helped them least.

Meanwhile, those at the top are raking it in. CEO compensation reached record levels this year, investment bankers on Wall Street enjoyed record bonuses and the giant tech firms now boast a market capitalization greater than the bloated federal budget.

Read the rest of this piece at Newsweek.


Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Photo: Elvert Barnes via Flickr under CC 2.0 License.

The Most Dangerous Class

Twenty-first-century America may be dominated by oligarchic elites, but arguably the biggest threat to our economic and political system might be located further down the food chain. This most dangerous class comes from the growing number of underemployed, overeducated people. They’re what has been described in Britain as the lumpenintelligensia: alienated, angry, and potentially agents of our social and political deconstruction.

This is far more than an angry mob shouting in keystrokes, but the proto-proletariat of a feudalizing post-industrial society. Overall, notes one recent study, over the past 20 years we have created twice as many bachelor’s degrees as jobs to employ them. Instead of finding riches in the “new economy,” many end up in lower-paying, noncredentialed jobs. They then compete with working-class kids, often products of similarly dysfunctional high schools; an estimated one-third of American working-age males are now outside the labor force, suffering high rates of incarceration, as well as drug, alcohol, and other health issues.

Although they are not subject to the same pressures of the working class, the fate of those attending college and even graduating is far from bright. This is the most-anxious generation in recent history, and for good reason. Today more than 40 percent are working in jobs that don’t require their degree, according to a recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Another study notes that most may never ascend to the kinds of jobs that graduates have historically enjoyed.

This is a global phenomenon. Over a quarter of Chinese graduates are unemployed, and the number is increasing.

In India, one in three graduates up to the age of 29 is unemployed, according to a Labour Ministry report released last November, almost three times the country’s overall unemployment rate. A recent U.N. analysis also suggested that this huge bulge of underemployed educated people could undermine the country’s stability in the years ahead.

As Greta Thunberg and her legions remind us, young, discontented people have tended to push toward the extremes. In Latin America, underemployed graduates have long been a source of disruption. Today roughly half of all Latin American college students don’t graduate, and many never really see a payback for their time in college.

A similar pattern of disruption drove the Arab Spring. There, as well as in the Balkans, unemployed and underemployed college graduates have been a major disruptive force. In Africa, where youth unemployment is also high and the numbers are growing fastest, college graduates who compose barely 7 percent of the total workforce also labor in low-end jobs.

Read the rest of this piece at National Review.


Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.